Zimbabwe's rogue attorney general says activist a threat to Zanu PF

HARARE, – Zimbabwe's new rogue attorney general Johannes Tomana has branded detained human rights campaigner Jestina Mukoko a threat to society and said he would oppose her release, in comments published on Wednesday.

Mukoko has been charged with attempting to topple President Robert Mugabe alongside two other activists and dozens of opposition members in cases that have deepened Zimbabwe’s political deadlock.

Attorney General Johannes Tomana, a Zanu PF party functionary and was appointed by Mugabe last month, told the state-owned Herald newspaper in an interview that there was enough evidence to suggest Mukoko committed a crime and should not be released.

"Any attorney general in the world would do what I am doing given a case like the one involving Mukoko," Tomana said. "Evidence gathered proves that she is a threat to society and she should not be released now."

Mukoko and other activists accuse state security agents of torturing them to extract confessions and deny the charges against them. The government says it does not use torture.

The opposition Movement for Democratic Change accuses Mugabe of using the arrests to exert pressure to force it into joining a unity government from a position of weakness and without the posts it seeks.

Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai has said the cases could wreck his September power-sharing agreement with Mugabe, seen as a chance to rescue the once relatively prosperous country that is now ruined.

Tomana, who sits in cabinet as a non-voting member, but is meant to prosecute cases independent from government influence, denied that the case against Mukoko was political. However, he said he was proud to be a supporter of Mugabe’s ZANU-PF party.

The ruling party lost its parliamentary majority to the MDC in March last year, the first time since independence in 1980. But the Herald said the opposition might lose its slim majority after one of its legislators was convicted for forgery.

Legislator Lynette Karenyi was convicted of forging the signatures to secure nomination for the vote. She denies the charges but it is not clear whether she is appealing against the conviction.